FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REGULAR HONEY AND RAW HONEY?
Regular honey—the cheaper honey found on supermarket shelves—undergo various forms of processing through filtration and pasteurization. The latter process involves intense heating to give the honey a clear and smooth appearance, to increase its shelf-life, and to kill yeast cells that can affect the taste of the honey. Many of these highly processed types of honey are not 100% real honey, as they often contain added sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup or brown rice syrup. The honey is also often comprised of honey from a wide range of geographically located sources which homogenizes the taste. Pasteurization and the over-processing of regular honey can reduce or even remove beneficial nutrients inherent in honey, like bee pollen, propolis, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and antioxidants.
Raw honey is neither pasteurized nor processed; yet, is safe to eat and naturally healthy as it contained numerous nutritional elements. Raw honey comes directly from the honeycomb of a beehive, is 100% natural, and contains no other ingredients other than the honey and fine traces of honeycomb debris, such as bee pollen, beeswax, and propolis. Raw honey can be unfiltered before bottling or lightly filtered to remove larger particles of hive debris. The limited human manipulation of raw honey production results in a naturally cloudier or opaque appearance than in regular honey. It varies in color, texture, viscosity, and moisture level (typically 13-20%) depending on the flowers and nectar sources from which the bees have foraged and on changing local environmental conditions like rain, sun, wind, and plant growth. Raw honey is typically sourced from a single-estate bee yard, such as Pualani Bee Farm, or from multiple bee yards in the same geographic vicinity that are managed by a single beekeeping company. Raw honey thereby retains the local character and flavor of the honey. In its 100% pure state, raw honey maintains maximum health benefits by retaining all naturally occurring hive benefits, nutrients, and antioxidants. For more on the health benefits of raw honey, see www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324966#benefits
WHAT IS RAW COMB HONEY?
Comb honey is the purest form of honey. In the hive, worker bees build tiny hexagon-shaped cells of beeswax to store surplus reserves of the honey they produce. They then “cap” these honey-filled cells with a thin layer of the hexagon-shaped beeswax, thereby protecting the honey and retaining its anti-microbial, antibiotic, and antiviral properties. These health benefits are naturally enhanced also by traces of pollen, propolis, and enzymes contained within the honey.
To package comb honey, most beekeepers remove the honey frames from the hive and cut squares, rectangles, or chunks of the honey-filled beeswax cells, which are then packaged for consumption without the additional process of extracting the honey from the comb using a centrifuge. At Pualani Bee Farm, we use specialized honey frames, call Ross Rounds, to enable the bees to create fully encapsulated round-shaped comb honey that does not require cutting into the comb. These rounds of comb honey, therefore, have no spillage of honey from severed beeswax cells. They are truly the most untouched form of comb honey, packed for human consumption in exactly the same form as the bees created them.
WHY IS RAW COMB HONEY SO MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE THAN EXTRACTED RAW HONEY IN JARS?
Comb honey production is a time-consuming process for bees and beekeepers. Since the beeswax structure of the comb is edible and nutritious and is eaten together with the honey to offer a more unique culinary experience, this requires the complete removal of the comb from the hive. Thus, in comb honey production, the bees need more time to rebuild the beeswax structure as opposed to extracted honey in which the empty but intact comb is returned to the hive for refilling with surplus honey.
The beekeeper also requires a more nuanced, patient, and consistent method of managing the bees’ progress in building the comb and in producing the honey. In comb honey production, timing is crucial to each step. The beekeeper consistently monitors the progress of the comb building, the filling of the cells with honey, and the capping of the cells, for timely removal of the comb from the hive, all the while maintaining the colony's strength.
Although comb honey production yields significantly less volume than extracted honey, it is a highly valued and sought-after product. Naturally contained in its original beeswax structure, the honey is very aromatic. Moreover, the combination of honey and the fine layers of beeswax cells lends a rich and complex blend of taste and texture to the gastronomic experience of eating 100% raw comb honey. Once the honey has melted away in the mouth, the nutritious beeswax remaining in the mouth can be chewed like gum or candy and then swallowed or discarded,
HOW SHOULD RAW HONEY BE STORED ONCE OPENED?
The naturally hygienic properties of raw honey allow it to keep for thousands of years without spoiling as evidenced by naturally preserved honey found in the pyramid tombs of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. Today, raw honey is usually stored at room temperature. If thickened raw honey is desired, refrigeration accelerates the natural process of crystallization.
Raw comb honey is best kept either at room temperature or in the freezer, to maintain the fluid character of the honey contained within the beeswax cells. Refrigerating comb honey will cause the honey inside the cells to crystallize.
HOW DO I RE-LIQUIFY CRYSTALLIZED RAW HONEY?
Most kinds of raw honey can crystallize over time, especially in cooler temperatures. The process of crystallization can be reversed and the honey reliquified by soaking the tightly closed jar in a container of hot water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit) ensuring that the water does not spill into the jar of honey. The water level should be higher than the honey level but lower than the lid of the jar. Let the jar sit in the hot water (refilling hot water to the bowl bath as needed) for about an hour, stirring the honey occasionally until the honey reliquifies. Be careful not to overheat the honey as this will reduce its raw quality and nutritional benefits.
WHY DO CERTAIN KINDS OF RAW HONEY HAVE DIFFERENT LAYERS?
When honey begins to crystallize, the naturally present glucose and fructose sugars start to separate. The crystallizing glucose-heavy honey settles at the bottom of the jar while the more liquidy fructose-heavy honey floats above. For more on this topic, see www.rawhawaiianhoney.com/why-does-honey-crystallize.
HOW ARE DIFFERENT VARIETALS OF HONEY OBTAINED?
Bees will forage among what is blooming at a specific moment in time. Pualani Bee Farm’s location in the midst of the rainforest on Hawaii Island offers the bees year-round foraging among numerous species of blossoming plants and nectar flows, yielding our signature 100% Raw Hawaiian Tropical Wildflower honey varietal. At different times of the year, Hawaii Island sees strong nectar flows of single species of flowering trees or shrubs. When bees forage exclusively from one type of these seasonal flowerings, they produce a honey varietal with the distinctive characteristics of that plant's blossom, such as honey produced from the Christmas berry bushes during the winter months or the ʻohiʻa lehua trees in the spring and early summer months.
WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR HONEY?
Between 2018 until May 2020, Pualani Bee Farm and Raw Hawaiian Honey Company were collaborating in honey production, with host bees from Raw Hawaiian Honey Company (formerly Hamakua Apiaries) residing and foraging at Pualani Bee Farm. Honey harvested from our bee yard was extracted at Raw Hawaiian Honey Company along with honey sourced from other Raw Hawaiian Honey Company managed bee yards in eastern Big Island. This enabled the sharing and exchange of single and multiple-species honey varietals such as Christmas Berry, Tropical Wildflower, and ʻOhiʻa Lehua between collaborating bee yards.
Since May 2020, Pualani Bee Farm has been functioning exclusively as a single-estate bee yard, with honey being harvested and extracted by-hand on site. The summer 2020 honey harvest, now available online, is our first season of honey harvested exclusively from our own bees yard.
ARE YOUR PRODUCTS FREE OF PESTICIDES AND CHEMICALS?
Yes. At Pualani Bee Farm, we care deeply about the well-being of our bees. Hence, we manage them through natural means only to control pest infestations and common diseases and to keep them healthy and antibiotic-free. Our queen bees are bred locally on Hawaii Island for traits of hygienic behavior that genetically strengthens their resistance to common pests. Moreover, we use only organic means of controlling pests, weeds, and plant diseases on our property, so that our bees remain healthy and their hive products free of pesticides and chemicals.
Pualani Bee Farm's location in the rainforest naturally provides our bees with year-round nutritious diets, so that they do not need supplemental feeding of sugar or pollen supplements. We purposefully maintain only a small number of hives to ensure our bees can always collect a surplus of nectar and pollen to meet their own needs as well as ours.
WHY SHOULD INFANTS UNDER 12 MONTHS OF AGE NOT CONSUME HONEY OR BEE PRODUCTS?
If given regular or raw honey or honey containing products, children under 12 months of age may be at risk of getting a rare but serious gastrointestinal illness, known as “infant botulism.” According to health experts, due to their immature digestive tract, infants may get botulism by eating Clostridium botulinum spores found in soil, dust, on carpets and floors, as well as in honey and honey products. After 12 months of age, developed digestive systems remove the toxins from the body before they cause harm. For more on infant botulism, see www.businessinsider.com/babies-honey-infant-botulism-bacteria-health-danger-2019-3 and www.healthline.com/health/parenting/when-can-babies-eat-honey.
DO POLLEN ALLERGIES IMPACT CONSUMING HONEY OR HIVE PRODUCTS?
In rare cases, people who have severe pollen allergies may react to raw honey and hive products containing bee pollen and should speak with a doctor or allergist before eating or using raw honey. See www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324966#risks.